In Case You Missed It…

At its finest, Twitter is a social medium in which communities are strengthened, news is shared, and witty banter is exchanged between friends and followers. At its worst, it is a universe of tedium, shameless self-promotion, and abject neediness.

Though we all think everything we say is utterly fascinating (myself included), do we really need to know that you just ate a bagel?

No, we don’t. Unless that bagel was served to you by a naked celebrity on horseback. And you supply photographic evidence.

In an attempt to be as I would like others to be ( in Twitter-specific terms) and to help make the online world a more pleasant place to visit, I’ve compiled a short, non-comprehensive list of dos and don’ts for Twitter usage*. Why? Because it allows me to complain and be helpful at the same time– two of my favorite activities. If you have any more ideas, please feel free to add your two cents. I’m still learning.

1. We don’t need to know where you are at all times. More than likely, your mother is not on Twitter, so why don’t you just leave the Foursquare check-ins on Foursquare where they belong?

2. Your life is not as fascinating to others as it might be to you. Unless you nearly choked to death on a severed finger you found hiding in your egg salad or Godzilla personally toasted your hamburger bun, we don’t need to know what you had for lunch. Don’t bore your followers by tweeting every blessed thing you do.

You just ate the most amazing flaxseed muffin ever? Yay for you! I can’t wait for the inevitable tweet about your next bowel movement.

3. Don’t overshare. Delicate matters such as venereal disease, marriage problems, interfamily issues, and the consistency of one’s stool are just a few examples of things that are best not discussed on Twitter. Unless, of course,  you are Direct Messaging your doctor or marriage counselor.

4. Play nice. Don’t criticize a friend or follower publicly**. If there is a problem, the kindest thing is to send the perceived offender a private, direct message. If, however, the Tweeter is openly seeking to damage another person by making unwarranted personal attacks or spewing racist, sexist, homophobic or any other sort of hateful venom, then go in with guns blazing. I might even join you.

5. Put your links into context. Have something you want to share? Excellent. However, merely tweeting “This is awesome!” in front of your link is entirely too vague and your followers will feel their time has been wasted if, for example, your link is to the new silicone garlic peeler you’ve just purchased from Amazon.com. Instead, attach a new header such as “I just got a new torture device for people with swollen finger syndrome!”

6. Follow Fridays. For the uninitiated, Friday is the day unofficially reserved for the pimping of one’s favorite tweeters and is indicated by the sign #ff, an abbreviation which in some fetish circles has a very specific and fairly disturbing meaning.

While it is a compliment to be included in someone’s #ff, the ensuing thanks are often irritating, however well meaning. Instead of cluttering up everyone’s feed with re-tweets like the one above, do your followers a favor– thank the sender personally. By direct message, if possible. This way, the rest of the world doesn’t have to read about the same thing ten times. Thank you, Ben, for the suggestion.

And, if you are going to send a Follow Friday shout out, please put it into– I’ll say it again– context. Here is an example:

The above is a very, very short list of people I enjoy following. Why do I enjoy following them? Because they are, all of them a) smart, b) funny, c) able make the mundane interesting, and d) possessors of a social conscience. It’s an alphabet soup of qualities to which I aspire, but do not always succeed.

7. Don’t re-tweet yourself. Unless you enjoy public masturbation (in terms of social media or otherwise). If you are clever or influential enough to have been re-tweeted by another person, again, just quietly say “thank you”. Attaching the nice things someone else has said about you and then re-tweeting the already re-tweeted compliment makes you look like a tool. Please see below image:

8. Don’t spell like a 15 year old sending a text. This one came from another wonderful tweeter, Marcia Gagliardi (@tablehopper on Twitter). It is paraphrased, but I could not agree more. U wanna cum acros like a idyit? OMFG! Go for it, but don’t expect anyone to take anything you say seriously.  Spellcheck is there for a reason. Use it. Abbreviations are fine, but if you can’t say what you want to say in 140 characters or less, then maybe you shouldn’t.

I might suggest you study the art of haiku and then come back to Twitter. Or, if you happen to be a famous ex-food critic who rhapsodizes over sun-dappled, runny eggs, I strongly encourage you to abandon your study of the art form and try a different approach entirely.

9. DO NOT REPEATEDLY TWEET ABOUT YOUR BLOG POSTS. I have written this in all capital letters because I cannot shout it loud enough in real life.

The phrase “In case you missed it…” has become the bane of my personal Twitter existence. My friends all know it and taunt me mercilessly about it.

Be smart about when you tweet news of your latest post. And tweet about it once. Twice is even acceptable, if it is done tactfully. Using the above-mentioned phrase gives the impression that the Tweeter: a) thinks his or her followers have nothing better to do than read their new piece about quinoa and garlic scape macarons, b) is sending out a desperate cry for attention, c) is a complete narcissist (see: #7), or d) all of the above.

If your post is really that good, others will tweet about it. If I missed it, my apologies, but I will catch up with your blog when I have a little more free time.

Or, in case you missed it, I just un-followed you.

10. There is no number 10, because I can’t stand Top Ten lists.

*Contrary to public opinion, I do not see myself as the Moses-type, receiving God’s Twitter laws from on high, but I do happen to think these are good commandments to live by. And there are only nine, so they’re much easier to remember than Mosaic law.

** Although I must admit I’m a sucker for a good fight. In fact, I’m reading one right on my Twitter stream as I type this.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Rants and Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to In Case You Missed It…

  1. Laurie says:

    Brilliant, and thank you for speaking out. Now let’s hope this goes viral.

    • I was just saying to a friend that I doubt very much many people will read this because no one likes being told what to do.

      I am, however, delighted you like it!

      • Serene says:

        Yeah, I stopped listening halfway through because (a) being told what to do is tiresome, even by fabulous people; and (b) I had to quickly go delete that post about my bowel movements. Kidding, kidding!

        • I get so tired of hearing myself tell me what to do that I sometimes like to have others do it for me. As long as they’re fabulous.

          And did that post about your bowel movement include a recipe?

          xom

  2. NicoleD says:

    Agree! The quinoa and garlic scape macarons made me laugh out loud. Excellent job handling this delicate topic.

  3. EllenFitz says:

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… I couldn’t agree more. Thank you!

  4. Fatemeh says:

    In order to avoid a #10, let’s call this one:

    8b: Twitter is 140 characters for a reason. If you routinely need five Tweets to get your message across… GET A BLOG.

  5. Ahhh… I believe you hit the hammer on the nail, however I feel that I have been guilty of each and every one on your items on your list at least once.

    The one thing I do tend to do is thank my #FF in a long list. I try to do it in the dead of night however (usually around 2am, right before I go to bed) in the hopes that it won’t clog up everyone’s feed. Thankfully no one bothers to #FF me anymore.

    • We’re all guilty of one or more of them. Myself included. I’m merely trying to be more mindful.

      And the reason no one #ffs you (I am assuming you mean in the Twitter sense of the abbreviation) is because everybody’s already following you anyway.

      • Serene says:

        This is true. Using #FF for someone as popular as Irvin would be like #FF’ing Ree Drummond. As if anyone in food blogging doesn’t already read them!

        • Who’s Irvin?

          And is Ree Drummond that sister on Diff’rent Strokes? The one who wound up doing softcore porn, holding up a dry cleaner’s, and then coming to an untimely end?

          Does she have a Twitter account? Because I’d totally follow that.

  6. Danielle says:

    Hallelujah. You’ve encapsulated my pet peeves with the medium, although, I admit, it’s partly to do with some of the people (tweeps?) I follow. In which case….

    To add to your not-quite-Top-Ten list, I have:

    – Don’t tell the whole world that you’re xxx followers away from 10,000 (or whatever number’s magical to you). It’s enough to make me unfollow you so that you’re further away from your goal.

    – If you want to jump into a conversation between two or three other people, at least make sure that you’re on-point or you add to the discussion.

    – Suck up, but do it well, not blatantly.

    Hmm, I apparently have more issues with this Twitter thing than I thought I did…

  7. I love this. Follow Friday is a big pet peeve of mine.

    Also, part of me really wants to know the other meaning for #ff. Or maybe I don’t.

  8. kathleen says:

    Brilliant. So agree on Top 10s, I prefer going to 11. My #10 would be don’t leg hump in public. If you think it’s embarrassing when a neighbor’s friend does it, imagine everyone’s chagrin when you do it on public to Ree Drummond.

    #11 – I still believe the value of Twitter isn’t how many people follow you, but who you follow. Like you.

    • Ah… public leg humping! It is my opinion that Twitter is essentially an online venue for… how to put it politely? Let’s just say it’s an online venue for mutual pleasuring.

      And I only do that to Miss Drummond via DM.

      I’m delighted you like to follow me, because I like to follow you. God. Now even my blog is starting to sound like Twitter.

      xom

  9. David says:

    I’m always surprised when I tweet a picture of something I saw in a bakery or mention something I ate, and people start pleading for the recipe. I’m not sure if it’s actually possible to tweet a picture of a croissant or a lemon soufflé, then immediately ask the baker or chef for the recipe, then tweet it in 140 characters.

  10. Shelly says:

    this is so clever, i’m going to tweet it to all my followers!

  11. Kate says:

    Witty as always and right on. I can’t even begin to understand why people tweet their posts 3+ times. Who, do they imagine, has the patience to see them repeating themselves over and over without unfollowing?

    Thanks for the laughs and commiseration. I love the variety in your posts too.

    • Hiya Kate.

      I think the reasons people post 3+ times are varied, but I think the most common reason is the basic human need for attention/recognition. Of course, there are good ways of getting attention and bad ways. Posting multiple times about the same post is definitely in the latter category.

      And thanks for the lovely words. My posts are varied because my life- like everyone else’s– is varied.

  12. Marie says:

    A huge, loud, blinking YES to Number 9!

  13. Gilbert Ho says:

    Love this post- so funny, yet true. And I’ve been guilty of a few of these Twitter no-nos too. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. Deborah says:

    Hilarious and all too true. Twissues, ha!

  15. Jun Belen says:

    I’ve never understood why people #FF incessantly week after week. Like they cut and paste a list of #FF tweets from a Word document to their Twitter feed every Friday. Once is enough. Or maybe a couple times. But every week is just plain stupid.

    Another thing I’d like to add to your list (by the way, Danielle added good ones above) is PDA on Twitter. I guess I’m not overly touchy-feely like most but I cringe when I see public displays of affection publicly on Twitter. “I can’t believe I get to hug you this Friday” “I love you and your blog” “I’m counting the days till I see you again” Go get a room!

  16. Hilarious and true and I’m guilty of many of them. Though I must admit when you are new to twitter ( I was about a year ago), you just start doing what everyone else is doing, re tweeting yourself, continuous blog post tweets etc. The more time you spend on twitter and more following you have you start having your own pet peeves. And then you learn to stop doing it. Like I stopped #FF unless I really found someone I’m too excited to follow. And then I stopped tweeting my blog post for more than twice (co of different time zones) etc But I’m often guilty of ‘chatting’ on twitter which i know is a pet peeve for many people. The thing is every person has certain pet peeves about tweets. I personally don’t like it when people tweet in caps. That drives me crazy. or when people keep tweeting about other people’s post – its supposed to be your timeline!! Or when u keep sharing pictures of your pet. As long as its not extreme I can of tolerate it. You can’t make everyone happy, but I wish like everything else in life, people use more of common sense!

    • I think you’re spot on here. When we’re new to anything, we tend to follow the lead of others. Of course, we also get caught up in the excitement of that newness.

      Fortunately, most of us calm down and figure out how to best navigate. Not everyone unfortunately, but most of us. And I absolutely include myself in that group.

  17. Alessandra says:

    For someone who says they don’t see themselves as “the Moses-type, receiving God’s Twitter laws from on high”, you sure do sound like it. While I agree with most of your “commandments” (and have been guilty of some of them myself), your post reads like a condescending lecture. Twitter works differently for everyone. I happen to enjoy doing the occasional Follow Friday, I will repost a link to my blog posts 2-3 times (in a measured and tactful manner), and while I don’t incessantly tweet about “every blessed thing [I] do”, if I want to tweet that I just made a fantastic batch of my homemade Bolognese sauce or post a picture of my dog, I’ll damn well do it. If someone wants to un-follow me because they think my tweets are not witty, snarky or interesting enough, then so be it. I certainly won’t lose any sleep over it. We can’t please everyone. Now if you’ll excuse me, *BORING ALERT* I have to go throw a load of laundry in the washer. I’m going to go tweet about that now.

    • Alessandra– I wrote these rules “(i)n an attempt to be as I would like others to be.” They are guidelines for my own use which I decided to share with my readers. True that they are shared in the (vain) hope that others would think they were sound, see the common sense in them, and adopt some or all of them for their own use.

      And you are correct in reasoning that Twitter works differently for everyone. I am relatively happy in my sphere and, hopefully, you are relatively happy in yours– though I somehow doubt it.

      In real life, do you make a habit of coming into someone’s home and insulting the host right off the bat as you do when visiting someone’s blog? As your host, I feel I have no choice but to extend my hospitality by offering you a little something in the way of refreshment:

      Is coffee okay? You take it cold and slightly bitter, right?

  18. Chez Us says:

    Priceless. I needed a good laugh and this was perfect. Could not agree more with each of these points, and I have been guilty of a couple of them. Then I learned the proper Twitter etiquette! I have to say I really love Jun’s PDA …. thank you!!

  19. Helene says:

    I’m pretty sure I can whip up those garlic scape macarons if you really wanted them but I can’t guarantee publicly tweeting how grossed out I am. Repeatedly. With several stupid # that don’t make any sense and only hurt my eyes. #justsayingbecauseIamfunny #omgomggarlicscapemacaronsissuchagrossidea

    And….IN CASE YOU MISSED IT….I love you to bits and can’t wait to give you a big smooch #ewwwpda #ewwwgross

  20. Helene says:

    And you use movie quotes as often as I do.
    I love you even more.
    #lovefest #getaroom #ooohlala

    Alright…enough! Come visit me in SC is all I have to add, really.

  21. Mike says:

    3 is a magic number, yes it is… but I think rule #2 needs to be etched inside the sunglasses of a lot of people.

    (Still loving the Blossom Dearie post, had to use a Schoolhouse Rock line)

    • Mike,

      I’d etch that inside my own sunglasses, but then my vision would be so impaired that I might get hit by a bus or a skateboarder. And then I’d want to tweet about it.
      And I encourage the use of Blossom Dearie references. Always. They are suitable for any occasion.

      Michael

  22. People talk about struggling to find their voice in blogging – twitter is so much harder. I’m totally lost when it comes to my twitter voice… I haven’t figured it out yet – maybe because it’s such a concentrated dose of personality… and I’m still refining my writing style and who I am … I dunno. Not to mention 98% of the things I have to say are boring and, as for the other 2%, I can’t find my phone in time before I forget all about it.

    • I never realized there was a difference between a twitter voice and a blogging voice. And we’re all refining our writing styles. At least, I hope we all are. Otherwise, things get a bit tedious, don’t you think?

      And as for boring… this is one of the perks of living alone. I say boring things constantly, but mostly to my houseplants, which would explain their current state of droopiness.

  23. saltyseattle says:

    I haven’t visited for awhile and imagine my extreme pleasure upon discovering this well-timed post when I did decide to pop by. Of course I’m guilty, though not nearly as much as some. I’m surprised you didn’t get more contention on this list- I’m sure a lynch mob is discussing the strategy for quartering procopio as we speak.

    Regarding #ff- the only disagreement I have is the quandary that happens with receiving multiple #ff’s. When you get dozens, if you individually thank each one, it clogs the feed, so I prefer to thank as a group. On the other hand, when someone sends a group #ff (which I hate) and then one individual from the group RT’s that entire #ff back in thanks, well, that just makes my brain bleed. I wish we would do away with #ff altogether, and i think it’s on its way out, but until that happens I will lump my thanks as thanking in DM also takes too much time, plus opens an entire new medium for ad nauseam conversation. I’ve been told you are supposed to respond to absolutely everyone who ever tweets you or risk appearing bitchy. It’s all so much work sometimes it ruins the point.

    I’m sorry for my many transgressions, I hope you can forgive me. Maybe my new blog idea will help? Instead of blogging what I eat for every meal, I’ve decided to photographically document what it looks like in the toilet bowl once it comes out. I’m sure the accompanying recipes will prove to be exceedingly popular.

    • It’s just as well you haven’t visited for a while, because I haven’t written for a while– I took a much-needed break from blogging.

      I think it’s perfectly appropriate to thank people in clumps– especially if you cannot DM them. Even more so when one is as popular as yourself and has #ffs coming out of your ears.

      Please keep me abreast of your toilet adventures!

      xom

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